America's mourner in chief

 
US President Barack Obama speaks during "Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service" dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in the Boston Marathon bombing, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Massachusetts, 18 April 2013 "Your resolve is the greatest rebuke to whoever committed this heinous act," the president told the people of Boston

It is a grim part of the president's job to be mourner-in-chief, comforter-in-chief.

President Barack Obama did so after the shooting of Gabby Giffords and the murder of six others; he did so after the cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado; and again after the murders of the children in Newtown.

But this was the first time he has had to speak at such a service after an act of terrorism.

As we don't know who carried out this act, or why, it is not surprising that he had few words for the bomber or bombers themselves. He called them "small stunted individuals" and promised that they would face justice.

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In describing his US, he is also spelling out what he thinks it should be”

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Technically, it wasn't one of his most polished speeches. It had the feeling of a first draft, perhaps a little too heavy with imagery of marathon-running and sunshine. But that is hardly important.

His main purpose was to make America feel good about itself, and to make it see itself as the sort of nation that wouldn't lapse into fear in the face of such an attack.

No hint of being at war or under siege or standing firm in dark times. Instead a stress on Boston's spirit, with a few jokes thrown in, and an insistence that America cannot be, will not, be cowed.

As ever, Mr Obama expressed America's essential nature as a country that comes together, a people who help each other, who are there for each other.

"We know that somewhere around the bend, a stranger has a cup of water, around the bend, somebody is there to boost our spirits," he said.

"On that toughest mile, just when we think that we've hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up if we fall."

Something like this is his most common refrain, a very familiar message, that America is about community, a country which looks after its own.

In describing his US, he is also spelling out what he thinks it should be.

But he also knows what he does not wish it to become. The president had to come here, had to help Boston heal, but he does not want the country dwelling and brooding on this one terrible attack.

 
Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 104.

    #89: You are either misinformed or conveniently decided to ignore the fact. The US only attack or go after those who attacked or killed innocent Americans. Sadly, many of the people who attack Americans, inside or outside America, enjoy the freedom and liberty they do not enjoy in their home country. When these people attack America, it is akin to biting off the fingers that feed you.

  • Comment number 103.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 102.

    100. USSilentMajority
    You should be ashamed of yourself. Xenophobes are mentally unbalanced people who can be of any color. You may consider yourselves a "race," but you aren't.

    Have you no sense of shame? With this horrible situation still unfolding, must you spread your propaganda this way? You have freedom of speech, but no sense of respect, responsibility, proportion or shame!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 101.

    100USSilentMajority

    As indicated by your response,#98 McJakome is spot on. You will not understand. is it not the Repubs who are doing the disfranchising & the big lies?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 100.

    98. McJakome
    "Our own tribal Xenophobes can't even keep their warped views of the President to themselves until the emergency is over."

    Another cute way of playing the race card. :) To hide behind when so many "Americans" are attacked, lied to, disfranchised and generally betrayed by the present administration!

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 98.

    So much for tragedy bringing Americans together. Our own tribal Xenophobes can't even keep their warped views of the President to themselves until the emergency is over.

    Shame on you [and you know who you are as do all of the readers].

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 97.

    "This was a pretty shameful day for Washington," Mr Obama said at the White House. "But this effort is not over."

    Yep! While he wants an open door policy for "illegal" migrants, and insist that the "American" taxpayer provide for their education and welfare.

    He continues to redefine shameful, but he is a Lawyer.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 95.

    A man identifying himself as the father of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was quoted by the AP as saying that his son was a second year medical student in the US.

    "He is such an intelligent boy. We expected him to come on holidays here," Anzor Tsarnaev told AP from the Russian city of Makhachkala.


    And Nidal Hasan was a qualified psychiatrist.

    Ayman Zawahiri&Bashar Assad - opthalmologists. So???

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 94.

    ref #89
    US inflicts EVERY DAY in other countries. Can we imagine what it is like to hear drones overhead 24 hrs/day knowing they can strike at any moment.
    _____-
    No we do not inflict terrorism we fight it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 93.

    “Just two young men. Nope. No accomplices here.”


    89. BluesBerry,

    Oh good then. That’ll teach us.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 92.

    Yesterday it was Obama as Warrior and Healer. Today, it's America's mourner in chief. More hagiography. Enough already. Events are not dramatic foils to highlight the lead character's, i.e., Obama, particular qualities; the events ARE the lead, not Obama's commentary on them. Mardell is besotted with and fixated on Obama. Give it a break and write something worthy of being called journalism.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 91.

    89.BluesBerry
    I suppose you could hark back to the days before the likes of Briton TE Lawrence worked to organize and unite the people in many of these countries you speak of-- back when there was no Islamic sectarian violence or export of terrorism-- just tribesman with grudges killing each other with ancient bolt-action rifles and scimitars, yet still managing to treat their women like cattle.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 90.

    What will this site let me say??...


    The father calls his son a "true angel" and they will let him walk away.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 89.

    Boston Bombing reminds me of violence US inflicts EVERY DAY in other countries. Can we imagine what it is like to hear drones overhead 24 hrs/day knowing they can strike at any moment.
    Western countries are not worth more.
    Western countries are not worth less.
    Can this tragedy give Americans a deeper understanding of what others experience at the hands of the US EVERY DAY?

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 87.

    Mardell's headlines were Warrior, Healer and Mourner in Chief

    France TV's headline was Obama's Worst Week Ever

    As Mardell notes this was Obama's first time speaking at bombing victims' funerals as opposed to gun violence victims' funerals

    Will he get fired up against Islamic extremism like he did against gun violence?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 86.

    82.LucyJ

    "One report said that before coming to America as refugees after 9/11
    they went to hardliner Islamic schools in Chechya.."

    Kind of like the one in "Act of Valor". Not like the ones in "Olympus Has Fallen".

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 85.

    "of course N Korea, Iran etc were polite and respectful when the Republicans were in power."



    I recall there was not a peep from North Korea and Islamist Iran after Ronald Reagan (R) has become a president.

    I also remember what Islamists in Iran did during Jimmy Carter (D) ' presidency. With total impunity.

    Just as that Soviets embolded by JC's impotence invaded Afghanistan.

 

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